Eugene was a talented and successful preacher. The foundation of the Missionary Oblates aimed at preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned. In many of his writings we have come across texts insisting that the missionaries take special care of this ministry and ensure that it flows from the source of their personal and communitarian relationship with God.
In his diary, which was private, he regularly comments critically on some of the orators who came to Marseilles as itinerant preachers for occasional sermons. Eugene’s preaching standards were high and he had no time for the platitudes that were sometimes expressed.
In the evening, I went to hear Father Dufêtre’s sermon in St. Martin’s. He preached a sermon on religion that was not anything special. With his sonorous, strong voice one can understand how he can keep the promises he made to preach twice a day, even without risking the sacrifice of his life as he proclaimed he was ready to do for the good people of Marseilles, who must by now be used to hearing themselves flattered by every preacher who mounts a pulpit in Marseilles.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 12 February 1837, EO XVIII
A week later, a comment on another itinerant preacher
I went to M. Clerc’s sermon at St. Cannat’s. His discourse on human respect, more philosophical than Christian, could not have been understood by his audience, made up of good ladies and a small number of uninstructed men. God forbid that every preacher preached like that. It is not talent he is lacking in, nor logic, but the sensitivity, which is given only to men who proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified in a different way than the orators did in pagan Rome or Athens.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 19 February 1837, EO XVIII
What do people say about our preaching and charitable works – do they see us saying and doing things through the eyes of the crucified Savior?